MDPD: Babysitter’s bogus cartwheel claim belied real reason for girl’s brain bleed

Leonor Garcia (MDCR)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A southwest Miami-Dade babysitter claimed that a 7-year-old’s severe head injury was from doing cartwheels. But police said the girl told staff at a local hospital it was all a lie.

It was on the way to surgery where Leonor Garcia’s gymnastics story would unravel, an arrest report states: the girl told a nurse that she was actually being beaten with a metal spoon, remote control and phone.

Police said the girl would later reveal the reason: she wasn’t meeting expectations during language lessons.

According to police, the girl had been under Garcia’s care all day Saturday at her apartment in the 10000 block of Southwest 216th Street, near Cutler Bay.

When the girl told the 62-year-old babysitter she had a headache that evening, Garcia called the girl’s mother to come pick her up, police said.

After her mother arrived, Garcia made the cartwheel claim and suggested they take the girl to the hospital, the report states.

Police said doctors diagnosed her with a subdural hematoma, a type of brain bleed, requiring doctors to perform surgery to drain fluid from her brain. They said she also had a black eye, bruises on her shoulder and swelling on the right side of her face.

Garcia had been teaching the girl how to speak English, the report states, and when the girl failed to properly translate words from Spanish into English, she would get hit.

The girl said Garcia hit her 13 times on the day she came to the hospital. She said the babysitter’s story about cartwheels was a “lie” and Garcia had asked her not to tell anyone that she hit her.

Police said when they interviewed Garcia, she denied any claims of abuse but couldn’t explain how the girl was hurt.

She was arrested Monday morning and taken to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on a charge of aggravated child abuse causing great bodily harm, a second-degree felony.

She was no longer listed in Miami-Dade jail records as of Monday afternoon.

The arrest report doesn’t detail whether the girl is expected to suffer any lasting physical effects.

About the Author:

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.